The following is a report on last night’s March Madness Comedy Competition Finale, the Rumble in Manayunk. The undertaking of “March Madness” has been as great as it is large. Center City Comedy took on an arduous task, and this show went on witout a hitch. For the last month we have been asking the great question: what happens when you pit 72 comedians against each over the course of a month in a competition to see who can win the audience over?
The great answer: this…
7:02 – 9:18 — Emily and I arrive at Mad River. We are two hours early. We go to dinner, get coffee, buy some CDs, listen to them in my car, and then go to the show.
9:19 — In patriotic fashion, the crowd at Mad River is treated to a rendition of the National Anthem, beautifully delivered by Erin Hess.
9:22 — Host Tom Cassidy takes the stage.
9:24 — Tom introduces the commentators, Shifty-Man Foley and Waddles Washington.
9:31 — Tom removes his sweatshirt revealing zebra striped ref shirt and introduces the first contestant, Brendan Kennedy.
9:35 — A man standing near me makes an awkward squatting gesture. I catch it but don’t know what happened, like a nervous twitch.
9:36 — Brendan compliments Tom Arnold.
9:39 — The man squats awkwardly again, and I realize he is trying to adjust his underwear with out using hands.
9:40 — Jamil B is introduced.
9:41 — Third squat from this stranger. Guys, just go to the bath room and use your hands. Whatever that is, it’s weirder than just tugging at your crotch.
9:43 — Jamil B does an amazing Regis Philbin.
9:47 — Jamil B is off; referee Cassidy introduces Ian Fidance.
9:50 — A woman about five feet away from me flips the hair of a person standing in front of her, then ducks. It is the most passive aggressive ways of saying “excuse me” I’ve ever seen.
9:52 — Ian names a supermarket phenomena I’ve witnessed but never could define — “Front Milk.” Ask him about it sometime.
9:53 — The woman flips the stranger’s hair again. This time it works. The stranger looks around confused.
9:55 — Brandon Ketchup Wilson takes the stage dancing.
9:57 — The dancing ends, and the glasses come on.
10:01 — Brandon takes this opportunity to workshop a new nostalgic piece. Everyone laughs a lot.
10:06 — Tim Butterly is introduced after Brandon leaves.
10:08 — Crowd is focused, but one chatter box is shut down by ref Tom Cassidy, who keeps a diligent eye over us without being pushy or distracting. One of the first commendable performances of an official in Philadelphia’s history. Nice work, Tom.
10:13 — Tim and his daughter watched the 1986 animated movie Transformers, which I think is one of the coolest things a dad has ever done.
10:16 — Dan Scully is introduced.
10:18 — Dan is a lefty. So is Oprah, I think. The major difference between the two is that one has a very popular day time television show and the other is very funny.
10:19 — A woman makes a serious phone call. I’d imagine whoever she calls thinks she is on some hilarious subway train, where the conductor says a few things over the loud speaker, and the passengers all start laughing.
10:25 — Dan exits. Jon DelCollo takes the stage.
10:31 — Jon either met The Roots or is a liar. Either way, he’s got a really cool story out of it.
10:32 — There is someone on the other side of the room from where I am sitting that has a really great laugh. Worth mentioning — nice job, whoever you are.
10:34 — The crowd taps out, Ref Cassidy intervenes. Sean Quinn takes the stage.
10:38 — Sean doesn’t want to go to jail. Neither do I. But he’s got a lot of better reasons than I’ve ever thought of.
10:39 — I realize there are people still standing who have stood the whole show. Thanks to the dude who works at Mad River and brought us seats.
10:42 — Sean exits. We all vote and hand in our cards.
After carefully calculating certain measurements, considering variables, and correcting for error, the winners are named out of the eight finalists:
3rd place — Ian Fidance
2nd place — Brandon Ketchup Wilson
1st place — Jon DelCollo
Everybody on this show is a winner in their own right. These are people who have put in serious work and tonight received recognition for it. Terrific show, fellas.
The real winners — the audience, myself included, who saw the previously-mentioned terrific show with eight very distinct and varied great stand-ups. Terrific observing, everyone.
The real, real winners — the Champs Center City Comedy, for putting on the twice-aforementioned terrific show that didn’t cost me a dime. Terrific work, guys.
The real real actual winner, not in a sappy feel good way, Jon DelCollo, because he won. Terrific job, Jon.
Joe Moore is a comedy fan and sometimes-performer. You can follow him on Twitter.